Murphy dropped the morning's newspaper to the table with a sigh, then took another drag from the cigarette dangling from his right hand. He blew the smoke out in a tight ring, then squinted through the filmy gray frame at his brother's face.
Connor frowned at him, then glanced down at the discarded paper. "What do they have to say about us today, then?" he asked, picking up on Murphy's mood.
"Same shite they always do," Murphy answered, shrugging. And it was; fuckin' reporters never could make up their minds what to print about them, damning them in one article and praising them as Saints in the next.
"An' it's been botherin' ye about as long," Connor replied, taking a drag of his own cigarette and then gesturing with it, the end trailing smoky paths through the air. "Out with it, then, or do I have to wrestle it out of ye?"
Murphy made a face at his twin. Ordinarily he wouldn't mind a bout of horseplay-- it was a fine way to waste time of a morning-- but he wasn't in the mood for it. "It's just, sometimes I wonder which of them has got it right," he said. "The ones that think we'll end in Heaven, or the ones that think we'll end in Hell. 'Whosoever shed man's blood' and all, ye know."
Connor rolled his eyes and took a bite of the cold pizza on his plate. "That only applies to innocent blood, man. Ye know that. We're doin' God's will here. 'The land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.' We're providin' fuckin' atonement where the law's too weak to do it for us."
Murphy considered the crusts of pizza left on his own plate, then decided he wasn't that hungry and took a drink of his beer. "I know all that," he replied. "It's just..."
"Where's all this fuckin' comin' from, anyway?" Connor interrupted him, frowning. "We had the same dream, didn't we? And now that Da's with us..."
Murphy winced at that. Very few things had ever had the power to come between them in the twenty-eight years they'd been alive; Il Duce was one of them, not that Connor had realized that yet. Connor'd been more enthusiastic about their new job from the beginning, rushing headlong into it without looking back; when the grey-bearded hitman had suddenly finished their family prayer and touched their faces as if in benediction, Connor had taken it as validation of their cause, his eyes shining like the sun. It had been left to Murphy, always a step or two behind his brother, to wonder where the fuck their father'd been all these years and if the ties of shared faith and blood could truly make up for all that had gone before.
But he couldn't mention any of that to Connor. "I've had other dreams, too, ye know," he explained. "Nightmares, full of the blood of innocents, of people takin' up our example without the calling to go with it."
Connor stared at him intently a moment before replying. "We aren't responsible for the decisions of others," he said, soberly. "We can only do what God has told us to do, to the best of our ability. 'Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled', and what else are we but an instrument of righteousness on this earth?" He paused to take another drag on his cigarette, then shrugged cheerfully. "And we're fuckin' good at it, too."
"We are, at that," Murphy said, smiling ruefully back at him, and decided to shelve the argument for another day. "Speakin' o' thirst, we haven't been down to McGinty's to see ol' Fuck-Ass in awhile. What say we go down and check on him tonight? Make sure the Russians haven't been back to hassle him?"
Connor shrugged. "Might as well. Besides, I've kinda missed the place."
They grinned at each other, slipping easily back into their usual camaraderie. Where one went, the other would follow; that was the way it had always been between them, and nothing would ever change that.